The Meaning of Mary Magdalene
Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity
By Cynthia Bourgeault
(Shambhala, Paperback, 9781590304952, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
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Mary Magdalene is one of the most influential symbols in the history of Christianity—yet, if you look in the Bible, you’ll find only a handful of verses that speak of her. How did she become such a compelling saint in the face of such paltry evidence? In her effort to answer that question, Cynthia Bourgeault examines the Bible, church tradition, art, legend, and newly discovered texts to see what’s there. She then applies her own reasoning and intuition, informed by the wisdom of the ages-old Christian contemplative tradition. What emerges is a radical view of Mary Magdalene as Jesus’s most important disciple, the one he considered to understand his teaching best. That teaching was characterized by a nondualistic approach to the world and by a deep understanding of the value of the feminine. Cynthia shows how an understanding of Mary Magdalene can revitalize contemporary Christianity, how Christians and others can, through her, find their way to Jesus’s original teachings and apply them to their modern lives.
Cynthia Bourgeault, PhD, is an Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader. She is the author of several books, including Chanting the Psalms and Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.
“A spiritual masterpiece, and by far the wisest and most profound book ever written on Mary Magdalene.”—Andrew Harvey, author of Son of Man and Hope: A Guide to Sacred Action
“A remarkable invitation into the origins and wisdom of Christianity, through the apostolic witness of Mary Magdalene. Expect a challenge, perhaps more than you ’re ready for. This book should change something, as it invites you to deepen your capacity for love, through the witness of Jesus ’s beloved disciple.”—The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schiori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
“It takes courage, intelligence, maturity, but mostly Christian intuitive wisdom to write a book such as this. Cynthia Bourgeault succeeds grandly!”—Richard Rohr, OFM, author of The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See
“Pastor, scholar, mystic . . . Cynthia Bourgeault is all of these, but never before has she combined them so compellingly and persuasively, and—dare one say it?—so efficaciously as here in this work that lives so close to the center of her own being.”—Phillis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why
“Bourgeault masterfully takes the best of tradition, history, and recent scholarship, sums it up with clarity, and then respectfully and artfully flings open new doors of insight, wisdom, and possibility. She offers completely unique and stirring insights about Mary Magdalene.”—Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction
“This is not simply another book on Mary Magdalene along the lines of Dan Brown or the Holy Blood/Holy Grail authors. Yes, Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest, is making an argument about the relationship between Magdalene and Jesus, an argument that is certainly controversial, and in lesser hands has been badly distorted. However, Bourgeault does it in a way that is grounded both spiritually and academically.”—Parabola